Political Memorabilia Law

California has a law that targets political memorabilia. Found at Civil Code Section 1739, this law regulates the sale, advertisement for sale, and offer for sale of “any political item which is purported to be an original political item but which is not in fact an original political item.”

California Civil Code Section 1739.1 defines a political item as “any button, ribbon, poster, sticker, literature or advertising” for a candidate or ballot proposition in an electoral campaign. For an item to be original, it must have been “produced during any electoral campaign for use in support or in opposition to any candidate or ballot proposition before the voters in that campaign.”

So, if you are selling Barry Goldwater memorabilia, it should be labeled as a copy or reproduction, if the item is not original.

If you purchased a reproduction that was no so labeled, you can get a refund with interest. However, if the seller knew the item was a reproduction but sold it as an original, the buyer is eligible for damages equal to three times the price paid and interest.

The statute of limitation is one year from the date of discovery, but no more than three years after the sale.

I understand why the sale of reproductions as authentic items is wrong. But, why does California need a statute targeted towards political memorabilia? Don’t general laws addressing fraud or unfair business practices take care of this problem?

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